Magazine article Americas Quarterly

La Historia Secreta del Proceso De Paz

Magazine article Americas Quarterly

La Historia Secreta del Proceso De Paz

Article excerpt

La Historia Secreta del Proceso de Paz

by Marisol Gómez Giraldo

Intermedio Editores, Paperback, 175 pages


In august гою, three days into his first term as president, Colombia's Juan Manuel Santos met for the first time with his Venezuelan counterpart, Hugo Chávez. Relations between their two countries had hit bottom during the administration of Santos's predecessor, Alvaro Uribe. But now, in the city of Santa Marta on Colombia's Caribbean coast, the two men seemed determined to mend ties. It was then that Santos first told Chávez he planned to start peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (farc), which for 50 years had waged war against Colombia's democratically elected governments. "Count on my support," Chávez responded. "This is the best thing that could happen to Colombia."

The next six years would put that claim to the test. Between 2010 and 2012, meetings between the government and farc leadership took place across three continents and in absolute secrecy. Santos believed that if news of the talks were to leak, a public outcry would stop the process in its tracks.

But the secret was exposed in August 2012, when Uribe got whiff of the talks and accused the Santos administration of engaging the guerrillas behind the country's back. It was an accusation that would define opposition to the talks to the very end. One month later, Santos confirmed that the negotiations were underway and well advanced, thanks in large part to the support of outside players, including Cuba, Norway, Venezuela and Chile.

In La Historia Secreta del Proceso de Paz, a succinct account of the six-year negotiations, Colombian journalist Marisol Gómez Giraldo, who covered the talks for Colombian newspaper El Tiempo, sheds light on the hidden aspects of the process, including the surprising role played by Venezuela's Chávez in ensuring the guerrillas did not march out of the negotiating room. …

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